Former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) co-led the official Congressional inquiry into the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks, known as the “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. ”
The Congressional investigation supplemented the “National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,” also known simply as the 9/11 Commission.
For years Graham has been pushing to declassify a 28-page section of the 9/11 Commission Report which was omitted from the public eye. The 28 pages may only be read by members of Congress in a secure location, one person at a time, and the specific contents cannot be revealed to anyone. It is not clear how many members have read them.
Those who have read the 28 pages have made assurances that national security would not be harmed if they were released to the public. It would, however, impact our national security and foreign policy strategies.
Graham, in a 2012 op-ed which is well worth reading, wrote that there has been a “carefully orchestrated campaign to protect our Saudi “friends,” ample evidence of Saudi Arabia’s intimate ties to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks.”
This is corroborated by former Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE), who served on the 9/11 Commission. According to Kerrey, “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued.”
Both Senators swore affidavits in a lawsuit against the Saudis in 2012.
Flash forward to 2014 and H. RES. 428: Urging the president to release information regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States.
Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced the bill, which lays out the following:
Urging the president to release information regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States.
Whereas President George W. Bush classified 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001;
Whereas the contents of the redacted pages are necessary for a full public understanding of the events and circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001, attacks upon the United States;
Whereas the Executive Branch’s decision to maintain the classified status of these pages prevents the people of the United States from having access to information about the involvement of certain foreign governments in the terrorist attacks of September 2001; and
Whereas the people of the United States and the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks deserve full and public disclosure of the results of the Joint Inquiry: Now, therefore, be it
That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—
the President should declassify the 28-page section of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001; and
the families of the victims and the people of the United States deserve answers about the events and circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001, attacks upon the United States.
So far, the bill has several bi-partisan co-sponsors: Michael Grimm (R-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Paul Broun (R-GA), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), and John Duncan (R-TN).
Additionally, former Governor Thomas Kean (R-NJ) and former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN), the chairman and vice-chairman respectively of the 9/11 Commission, have endorsed the declassification of the 28 pages:
As we noted in The 9/11 Commission Report, complexity and over-classification produced an intelligence apparatus that in many respects “defie[d] public comprehension.” The report was valuable to the American people in large part because it included a tremendous amount of previously classified information—information about the 9/11 plot, the al Qaeda conspirators, and counterterrorism policy and actions in the Clinton and Bush administrations. The job of fully informing the American people is incomplete, however. The commission’s records, including summaries of our interviews and important intelligence and policy documents, are held by the National Archives. Some of those documents and records remain classified and are thus unavailable to the public. Authority to declassify those documents rests with the agencies that created them. Distressingly, little progress has been made by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in encouraging the relevant executive branch agencies to declassify those records and documents. Ten years after the Commission closed its doors, scholars and the general public should be given broad access to these documents, absent a compelling national security justification for withholding a given record.
Referring to the 28 pages, Massie said in an interview that “It challenges you to rethink everything” and that “anger, frustration, and embarrassment when these 28 pages finally come out.”
Graham, Jones, Lynch, and Massie spoke at length about the House resolution and 28 pages at a March press conference. You can read the transcript. or watch it below:
It is important for both government transparency and our national security for the American public to know the full content of the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 Commission Report. The extent to how much the Saudis were involved with Al-Qaeda will not be known until the 28 pages are released. Hopefully, more members of Congress will have the courage to push for these pages to be declassified.